Japan is a country like no other. Culturally rich, with years of history and tradition, it inspires a desire to discover its beating heart. Here are some distinctive aspects you may experience on your visit, for an authentic perspective of Japan.
Buddhism is a major religion in Japan, and some temples offer lodging facilities. Experience ‘shukubo’, or staying at a temple, to discover the simple, traditional living of Buddhist monks.
A typical stay in a temple includes a private room with a tatami floor, sliding doors with private or shared toilets and sinks. Futons are spread on the floor at night. Breakfast and dinner feature a monk’s vegetarian cuisine. You may also be invited to participate in the morning prayers.
To experience traditional Japanese hospitality, stay at a ryokan. Hospitality begins at the entrance where you will be greeted, then led to the lobby or your room. You will be provided a yukata to wear around the ryokan. You will be served matcha green tea and one of the highlights of your stay is dining on “kaiseki”, the traditional multi-course dinner.
Ryokan usually have a large common area overlooking a garden. The rooms have tatami flooring, comfortable futon bedding and old style furnishings. Ryokan almost always have an onsen. Spending time in a ryokan is the perfect way to experience a slice of Japanese life.
A tea house in Japan is exclusively dedicated to the tea ceremony. They are usually small, wooden buildings that are found in gardens, temple grounds, museums or parks. Tea houses usually have two rooms, one where the tea ceremony is enjoyed, and the other where the tea and sweets are prepared. Large tea houses may have more rooms.
Whatever the size of the tea house, they all share typical features like shōji windows, doors covered with Japanese paper, tatami mats and a simple style with earthy colours.
The tea ceremony, sado, is an integral part of Japanese culture, and is influenced by the principles of Zen Buddhism. The formality of the event decides whether just sweets, or a three-course meal will be served before the tea is poured. Tea may be prepared either thick or thin. Koicha is a thick, rich blend of matcha, while usucha uses less matcha powder and is whipped along with hot water using a traditional bamboo whisk.
The tea ceremony is a symbol of peace, and harmony, and promotes social bonding. It is the ideal occasion to relax, and enjoy tea.
Although western suits and dresses are common now, the kimono still remains the quintessential traditional garment. It comes in different types for different occasions, for both men and women. Dressing up in the traditional garb of a geisha or maiko is a popular activity that you could enjoy too!
Japan is rich in culture and tradition, and this is reflected in almost every aspect of life. Look around, experience the real Japan, and enjoy being one with this beautiful land for a while.
If you are planning a trip to Japan, do not hesitate to contact your luxury travel designer Mr. Isao Numano.